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Published on:
April 15, 2023

The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which succeeded in preparing and landing the first humans on the Moon from 1968 to 1972.

The plan for moon landing

The Apollo mission planners were faced with the challenge of designing a spacecraft that could meet the goal of a moon landing while minimizing risk to human life and cost. Four possible mission modes were considered:

In early 1961, direct ascent was generally in favor at NASA. Many engineers feared that rendezvous and docking, maneuvers that had not been attempted in Earth orbit, would be nearly impossible in lunar orbit. Advocates at Langley Research Center emphasized the important weight reductions, and won.

  • Direct Ascent: The spacecraft would be launched as a unit and travel directly to the lunar surface, without first going into lunar orbit.
  • Earth Orbit Rendezvous: Multiple rocket launches (up to 15 in some plans) would carry parts of the Direct Ascent spacecraft and propulsion units for translunar injection.
  • Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: This turned out to be the winning configuration, which achieved the goal with Apollo 11 on July 24, 1969.

The Lunar Roving Vehicle

🔋 An electric four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972. It is popularly called the Moon buggy, a play on the term dune buggy.

🚀 Built by Boeing, it could carry a maximum payload of 1,080 pounds, including two astronauts, equipment, and lunar samples, and was designed for a top speed of 8 mph, though it exceeded that speed on Apollo 17.

🌚 Each LRV was carried to the Moon folded up in the Lunar Module's Quadrant 1 Bay. After being unpacked, each was driven an average of 30 km, without major incident. These three LRVs remain on the Moon.